England, 1837: In the game of kings, there can be only one winner, but a second chance at love is worth more than any throne…
As a British army colonel, Edward FitzPrince deals with dangerous secrets every day. When his mother dies and he learns he may have a claim to the British throne, he quickly finds himself out of his depths. The Scottish-born soldier discovers life in London and political maneuvering foreign indeed.
One woman can help him, German Princess Charlotte von Scharnburg, with whom he had a secret romance more than a decade before, his long-lost wife. As the best friend and lady-in-waiting to his half-sister, Queen Victoria, who has just ascended the throne of England, Charlotte is now his natural enemy.
Edward is determined to have his birthright. Charlotte must ensure her family’s survival. They will be each other’s greatest ally, or tear each other apart.
Edward glanced over the balustrade to see a woman of such natural beauty as to put the King’s Staircase to shame. All the magnificence of the palace seemed to dim around her. Her shining gold hair contained more than a hint of auburn and her eyes were very dark under reddish brows. Surely lips were not so naturally red past childhood, and he suspected this woman was in her mid-twenties. Still, she had a splendid figure, and was tall for a woman. She would rest her head right against his shoulder if she leaned against him. Who was she?
He nodded his head at her and came slowly down the stairs, conscious of the kingly effect of his gleaming white trousers and shined boots against the black stairs and gold walls. He could see her breasts rise and fall. She was breathing rapidly, as if she had run down a long corridor to reach him.
A woman so beautiful must have wed right out of the schoolroom, though she wore no ring on her plump little fingers. Strange to see such hands on such a tall lady.
She stared at him a little strangely, as if he should know her. “I am lady-in-waiting to the queen,” she said. When he didn’t respond, she continued. “Baroness Lehzen sent for me in early spring, when it became obvious the princess would need a larger household soon.”
Her beauty must have made his mouth go dry. He worked his tongue against his teeth before he spoke. “You must be a cousin on the German side, and not related to me.”
She blinked then inclined her head, indicating she knew his relationship to her mistress. “I am a second cousin through Her Majesty’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.”
“I see,” he murmured. That explained the faint Continental accent. “I am very happy to see my sister, Princess Victoria, but my appointment is with Princess Sophia. I will, of course, be happy to pay my respects.” In fact, he could hardly contain his glee at reaching his sister so easily.
“The princess is in the queen’s apartments at present,” the lady said, arching one of her brows as she emphasized his sister’s assumed title. “Will you follow me?”
He had been told many a time that he never smiled, but he could feel the corners of his lips tilting up as he trailed the woman. While her wide skirt hid the curves of her hips, he could see she had a pleasingly tiny waist. Being in mourning for the king, she was dressed all in black, but her sash accented those curves with great proficiency. The wide, ruffled sleeves on her arms were pure silliness, however, a waste of money that could get caught in doors, catch fire, and rip on anything protruding. Women’s fashion had never made sense to him.
Sometimes he wondered what a woman would look like in men’s clothing. He wanted to see this lady-in-waiting in tight buff trousers, all the better to see her backside. A trim linen shirt might display her bosom well. It was hidden from view by a fichu, though the bodice of her dress itself was low-cut enough to display her charms if she dared.
Heather Hiestand was born in Illinois, but her family migrated west before she started school. Since then she has claimed Washington State as home, except for a few years in California. She wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period, and she continues to return to historical fiction as well as other subgenres. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room.